Exclusive Interview with Potonguler: A Low Calorie Alternative

by Aiman Aminudin

Let’s be real here Malaysia, sugar is a killer. And we take too much of it! More than what is necessary. 3.6 million Malaysians suffer from diabetes, according to Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Take a look at our food for instance. As delicious as our “teh tariks” and “kuihs” are, most of them contain a large amount of sugar. Sometimes more than the recommended daily allowance.

This was an issue the founder’s of Potonguler wanted to deal with. By offering Stevia based products, they hope that Malaysians can cut down on their sugar intake, but at the same time, still enjoy the wonder tastes of the food and beverages we hold dear.

We managed to get in contact with Potonguler to see what more they had to say about their business.

I spoke to Potonguler’s Co founder & Head of PR, Anas Lutfi Norman. Here is what he had to say.

Tell us about yourself!

Potonguler F&B is a low calorie food manufacturing company based in Setia Alam. We are producers of daily food products, in which one of them is the Susu Pekat Manis Le Ting Penuh Krim, with absolutely zero white sugar.

Currently our only product is the ” Susu Pekat Manis,” which is sweetened condensed milk. We just started this year and are making sales around RM25k per month 

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What was the story of your founding?

We have been in the in the diabetic food industry for 10 years now, ever since we discovered Stevia, a natural zero calorie sweetener, as a replacement for sugar, we thought that it can replace white sugar in food products.

Potonguler’s sweetened condensed milk was actually invented by accident when my sister Amirah, who was studying at Le Cordon Bleu at that time, needed to make pastries at home that uses sweetened condensed milk. But we didn’t have it, nor any white sugar, because we stopped using them for years.

So what she did was she decided to take milk powder and Stevia and mix it together to create a Stevia-based version.

So that was how our “susu pekat” was invented and it was also a timely blessing due to sugar tax and the rise of sugar-related diseases like diabetes.

Would you agree that most products in Malaysia have necessarily high amounts of sugar?

We can see that people consume a lot of “teh tarik” in the “mamak” shops that contain an excessive amount of sugar. So, our product can give you a healthier version of sweetened condensed milk that could enable consumers to enjoy more of their favorite drink!

Currently, teh tarik has 26 grams of sugar with 140 calories per cup! Not only that, bubble tea has a whopping 20 tsp of sugar which is more than a daily recommendation of sugar intake.

PotonGuler offers just 50 calories for 1 cup of teh tarik! With zero amount of white sugar.

Would you say that your product will benefit Malaysia, as there is a
large number of people who are diabetic in the country?

So far, almost all of the consumers who have tasted Potonguler are really amazed by the flavour! They always say it taste like caramel and it works well with Malaysian’s favorite teh tarik, kopi tarik, sweetened desserts and even used as spreads on toast or roti canai.

90% of the consumers who made the purchase for the first time will make repeat orders once they run out and most have said that RM7 is affordable compared to the price of medicine that they have to take due to excessive sugar.

Most diabetics cannot consume additional white sugar, so, most of the foods consumed are plain and tasteless. This is why they find Potonguler great for their hot drinks. We’ve even had customers who will add water to Potonguler and turn it into a milk drink.

Most of diabetic consumers have reported no spike in blood sugar levels when they consume meals, beverages or desserts with Potonguler condensed milk.

Our product can surely be one of the key solutions in combating non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity. When our daily food products are easily available and affordable to the masses, it will soon be easier for the consumers to make healthier choices and will reduce the expenses for healthcare when food is healthier.

Would you care to explain the benefits of Stevia?

Stevia is an all natural sweetener made out of leaves and it is 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero hypoglycemic effect.

What problems have you faced when you first started your company? And what problems do you face now?

Since we are a new company our funding is rather limited. So, we have to maximize our resources as well as our team effort as we only have 4 factory floor staff with 3 in the management department. 

At the moment, are not able to supply to major hypermarkets and retail stores due to high listing fees and existing sales credit terms of up to 90 days in FMCG industry.

Our current challenges that we are facing is also funding for expansion as the demands are increasing due to the rise of awareness programs and the fact that we received a lot of media attention. But our production capacity is still small ,so we are looking for partners to collaborate with in terms of growing the company as well as for marketing and distribution and spreading the awareness of the availability of low sugar diabetic friendly food products in the market.

We believe the key to our success is for Potonguler to be physically available in all stores and for people to be aware of our mission to serve the goodness of Potonguler as healthy affordable sweet milk. 

What is your main method of marketing your products?

We market online via social media & through awareness campaigns. We have also been featured in a lot of local as well as international news media programs.

What plans do you have for the future of Potonguler?

We have the sweetened creamer with zero white sugar version in development. This version contains non-dairy creamer that is suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. We also aim to make the products are more affordable to the B40 segments as they are targeted to be priced at RM3- RM4, which are not much different from the existing sweetened creamer in the market. In that way we can provide more healthy daily food to more segments of the market.

We are also coming up with our very own dairy based Ready-To-Drink teh tarik, kopi tarik and chocolate drink. These products are the introduction to our to diabetic friendly line of beverages where it will be easier for the consumers to be familiar with low sugar and diabetic friendly food products.

We are also coming up with our own milk powder with Stevia for for the dairy powder industry.

And finally, to those who want to start up their own business, what
tips can you provide to them based on your experiences?

Find your differentiation in whatever you do and in whatever business you are in, make sure it provides value to the people and can be able to change people’s lives.

Conclusion

And that was Potonguler, telling about themselves, their story and their goals. All the best to them as they set out on ensuring that Malaysians remain healthy and perhaps reducing the diabetic cases which the country has.

You can find more information about Potonguler and check out they offer by visiting their website! http://potonguler.com/index.html

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